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Enhanced campaigns: Adwords and the faces in the crowd.

The author

Andy Heaps

Group Operations Director

Google has announced the release of what is arguably one of the most fundamental changes to Adwords in years.

Effectively, the structuring of Adwords campaigns is becoming device independent, removing the ability to have specific mobile, tablet or desktop targeted campaigns.

The focus is on enabling advertisers to target people at the right time, in the right place, with the right advert and the right call-to-action. This is a hugely important update - and mindset change - for any advertiser who is investing in PPC.

Epiphany’s 2012 animation ‘Faces in the Crowd’ points to many of the issues that this update supports, especially when it comes to using paid search in a way that empathises with the way people use the web in their everyday lives.

Econsultancy invited me to write a blog in response to Google's announcement from the US. This post summarises my main points.

Why is Google making these changes?

As with all Google updates, their message is all about improving the experience for their end users. They want relevant, timely and useful adverts that will secure a high CTR.

It could be seen as Google giving a helping hand (or hard shove, depending on your point of view) to advertisers to increase their investment in and commitment to mobile advertising.

For advertisers this means context and situation based targeting is to become an integral part of Adwords. Previously, features like mobile specific targeting have been relatively siloed and easy to opt out of.

With focus of targeting to be more about the user and their circumstance, or the context of the search, rather than the specific keyword they searched for, this is no longer the case.

A quick look at some of Google’s stats helps to explain why situation based targeting (especially mobile) is such a focus for them:

  • In 2013 more people will be using mobile phones than PCs to get online
  • Mobile searches have grown 400% since 2010
  • There will be 1 mobile device for every person on earth by 2015
  • 95% of smartphone users have searched for local information
  • 61% of users call a business after searching and 59% visit the location
  • 70% of mobile users have compared product prices on their phones
  • 50% of mobile searches led to a purchase

What will advertisers have to deal with?

Advertisers will have to get used to managing multi-device and multi-context campaigns. They will have to extract value from the multiple bid adjustments that will be available at keyword level in order to optimise mobile activity separately to desktop activity. 

Regular bids will be used for determining desktop Ad Rank while bid adjustments will be applied to determine mobile Ad Rank.  

The bid adjustments will range from -100%, which will turn mobile advertising off, up to +300%, which will bid four times the amount of the desktop targeting.

For example, imagine an advertiser who wants to secure a high position on desktop but doesn’t want the advert to appear on her target audience’s mobile. She should place a relatively high bid, but with a bid adjustment of -100%. Conversely, if she wants to target potential customers via their mobiles rather than their desktop, she should place a relatively low bid but with a high multiplier. A £0.25 bid with a +300% bid adjustment effectively says that the most she would be prepared to pay to appear on desktop search would be 25p per click, while on mobile she is prepared to spend £1 per click.

Advertisers will be able to make other bid adjustments based on time of day (as we currently have via ‘day parting’) and proximity. The latter of those two is the useful ability to adjust bids upwards or downwards depending on the searcher’s physical location.

Most importantly, all of these multipliers can be ‘stacked’ depending on the nature of the campaign and ‘who’ it is targeting. And ‘where’. And ‘how’. And ‘when’... there's a wealth of opportunity.

Indeed, targeting can be enhanced even further through different advert formats. Adverts can be created and optimised differently for mobile and desktop searches by specifying whether you want to execute them on mobile or desktops. Different adverts can have different features based on the context and circumstance of the searcher.

It’s worth noting that if only ‘mobile preferred’ adverts exist, they will show for desktop searches as well as for mobile searches and vice-versa. There is also a series of reporting updates. Combining situation and context data with device and keyword level data will give marketers a much clearer picture of the customer journey. Priceless, structured data and insight.

Keep calm and migrate slowly

The option to migrate to these ‘enhanced’ campaign settings will be available almost immediately. However, it’s likely that only select accounts will see it initially, with it being added to more over the coming weeks and months.

Once advertisers are happy to make the transition, assuming the option exists in the account, they should seek to enable the enhanced set up. There are a few important points of caution here though.

Once advertisers have enabled the new set up, they won’t be able to return to the previous version. It is important that as much advanced preparation is done as possible to minimise any negative impact.

PPC advertisers only have a few months to get used to this new way of working. As things stand currently, accounts that aren’t migrated by the end of June 2013 will be automatically migrated by Google.

Enhanced campaigns are not applicable to the GDN. These campaigns will continue to operate as they currently do.

One final consideration is the impact this has on third party tool providers, particularly analytics packages. Unsurprisingly, Google’s Double Click is ready and able to manage, and take these updates into account. However, we would advise that advertisers carefully review the impact this change has on any other tools that interface with, or track data from Adwords. Google has provided more detail about these changes on the Adwords site.


‘The year of mobile’ has been a rallying cry that we’ve heard almost every year that search marketing has existed, and perhaps this is the update that will finally make it a reality.

With the use of smartphones growing significantly (for example smartphone penetration is at 58% in the UK according to Ofcom) it is an obvious market for Google to target aggressively.

However, they will have to demonstrate the real, rather than hypothetical, benefits of this change. It relies on the end user having a positive experience and finding a use for the adverts that they are being served. Exposure to irrelevant, obtrusive adverts via mobile risks driving people away from Google.

As such advertisers need to be willing to invest the extra time and effort into campaign management to ensure that doesn’t happen. And that could prove to be Google’s biggest challenge.